The Ontario government has announced that it will allow school boards in Ontario to dip into their reserves to create more classroom space to allow for greater spacing when school resumes. The government also increased its own funding to schools including $50 million for ventilation systems, $18 million in supports for online learning.
Under the formula, boards will be allowed to access about two per cent of their reserves, freeing up about $500 million, with the government filling in the gaps for the handful of boards that no longer have any reserves.
The province is also mandating that students who opt for online learning this fall, and those who are in designated areas where teens are studying part-time at home, 75 per cent of it must be live video conferencing or “synchronous.”
The government has previously announced $309 million for staffing and personal protective equipment, among other needs, to help boards cope with COVID-19.
Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca, who was in Windsor on Thursday, said Premier Doug Ford “has already told local school boards they have to dip into their reserve funds” during the pandemic, and called on the government to hire teachers, custodians and provide proper resources so schools can safely reopen. In a news conference today Education Minister Stephen Lecce was flanked by Ontario Medical Officer of Health who said he agreed with Lecce’s school reopening plan and said “no plan is risk-free, but I don’t see significant risk in this plan.”